Music Teacher First Year Flashback

Today, I'm linking up with Shelley at Pitch Publications to write about my first year of teaching. Click the picture below to read Shelley's post, as well as posts of other music bloggers!

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room: Flashback to my first year as a music teacher!

This is my seventeenth year teaching (how did that happen??) so it was fun to think back on that first year. Here goes!

What subject/age and where were you teaching?
I was hired to teach in the district I graduated from, and taught K-6 general music. I saw the students for 40 minutes, once a week.

What was your first classroom like?
I had two classrooms, at two buildings. Both were on the stage, with a movable wall between the stage/music room and the gym (so it was quite noisy at times!) Both rooms were long but narrow, with just a bit of storage.

Were you given supplies and materials?
If I remember correctly, I had a few barred instruments at each school, and none were in great condition. I had some other non-pitched percussion. I don't remember having a whole lot of resources, other than textbooks, which I never opened up.

What do you remember about your first day?
I remember having the same, fidgety Kindergarten the same day, for forty minutes both times! NOT the best situation! I also had a MD class that came with no aide (they had an aide, but she decided I would do just fine without her...) They were really sweet kids, but I really wasn't sure what I was doing. I remember driving home, thinking, "Is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?"
Thankfully, that was the only time in my career that question crossed my mind. It got much better after that! It took a while to get better, but it did!

What was the hardest part of your first year?
I lost my voice every single weekend. I wasn't using it properly to speak OR sing, and was headed on a journey to get vocal nodes. I truly didn't understand how much I would use my voice as an elementary music teacher! Thankfully, a few years into my career, I took voice lessons, which helped greatly! (See this blog post with strategies for saving your voice.)

What was the best part of your first year?
I was able to meet with the other music teachers every single week...during the school day! Every Wednesday, we had time in our schedule to meet and collaborate instead of teach. Doesn't that sound like a dream? Unfortunately, I don't think they do it in that district anymore, but it was nice while it lasted! So helpful for a first year teacher!
I also had great students, who were enthusiastic about what we were doing and would try what I asked of them. It was really hard to say goodbye to them at the end of the year, since I ended up being at two completely different schools the year after that!

What did you discover your first year that you didn’t learn in college or student teaching? 
I learned that I didn't know much about lesson planning, and that I didn't know where I was going with the students. I didn't get those answers in the first year, but I knew I needed a plan. I started my Kodály training the summer after my first year, and I'm so glad I did!

Where did you draw most of your lesson plan inspiration from?
I did get lots of great material during my student teaching, so I used a lot of songs and activities from my experience. At that point in my career, I didn't really know about any of the great resources that I now use all the time, so I just went off of my memory!

Is there anything you taught your first year that you still teach now?
A few things! I still do the bunny game and "Mr. Stingy Man" (a fun song tale) with my Kindergarteners and first graders. I also still use "Come back home my little chicks" (a fun singing game) with first grade.
But that's pretty much it!

What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew then?
OK, seriously, two big things...I wish I knew how to put on a program, because I had no clue. My coordinating teacher didn't believe in performances, and I had never heard any music teacher or professor talk about performances, so I was clueless. My first program was bad. Like really, really bad. I decided after that I needed to learn how to put on a successful program and gradually got much better! (See these blog posts with ideas on how to successfully put on a program!)

And as I said before, I wish I knew how to lesson plan. My lesson planning at that point consisted of filling out a tiny box in my lesson plan box with the activities I was planning. No procedures. No materials. No objectives. I shudder when I think about it now! But with my Kodály training, I learned SO much and knew so much more about what I was doing each day AND where I was going with them throughout the year! (Yay for year plans!)

Thanks to Shelley for hosting the party! Make sure to read her original post, to read how other music teachers handled their first year!

1 comment

  1. Ummm, the same kindergarten class twice in one day?!? what? I had completely forgotten until you said it but I lost my voice all the time my first year as well. They really should give first year teachers twice as many sick days.